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The Only 5 Evernote Notebooks You Will Ever Need

The Only 5 Evernote Notebooks You Will Ever Need


No, I mean...

Have you used Evernote?

I guess the more appropriate question would be, "Are you using Evernote?"

If you ever have used it I can just not conceive of a reason why you would stop; unless of course you don't like your life being organized. 

Anyhow...I digress.  

Evernote.  If you're using it, if you're not using it, if you've never heard of it... this blog's for you. 

*Actually, if you've never heard of it, this blog is for you.


Organize your shit.

You'll thank me for it, I promise. 

I'm quite fond of referring to myself as "whimsical", and I like to think of 'whimsy' as a state of being where creativity, dreamy and flighty mix.  And being a resident of this state, organization has not ever really been my strong point. I'm adaptable, though, and with a large family, homeschooling, a blog and a photography business, organization is no longer optional; it is required. I've been playing at organized for a few years but I knew my system of pretty notebooks was outdated and needed to be replaced by a superior digital technology. 

I had managed to whittle my pretty notebook collection down to just 2 (or 3…ok, sometimes 4)... and one isn’t even pretty. I had become a master ‘to-do list’ maker, filling pages with daily updated lists. And because of a traumatic brain injury I suffered when I was a teenager, I simply MUST make notes on anything I want to remember.  I don’t even try to rely on my memory anymore, if I hope to recall something in the future, I write it down. 

My notebooks would fill up fast and there was no time efficient way to search. While I was keeping my head above water, I knew my methods were far from efficient and time is in short supply around here.

I remember reading David duChemin’s book “How to Feed a Starving Artist” a little over a year ago (I can recall being really quite pregnant with T at the time). He mentioned Evernote and I thought to myself that of course it was probably pretty cool since duChemin said it was cool and he’s such a cool dude that really knows his stuff and all of the other things he’s suggested that I tried wound up being totally legit. But I was pregnant and hot (central florida in the summer in my last trimester… sounds fun, right?) and tired and bleh. I said I'd get to it later. I forgot. 


It wasn’t long before Nikki read “How to Feed a Starving Artist” and pretty immediately set up her own Evernote account. I resisted much like I resisted e-books. “I want to hold my books in my hands!,” I would protest, “I want to smell them! An e-book has no smell!”. I needed my pretty notebooks, the analogue relics that they were. I resisted. Well.. most of my books are on my phone now because as it turns out, it’s just so much more efficient and I get a lot more reading done this way. I had to sacrifice that intoxicating book smell, but at least I’m reading again!


For weeks (ok.. fine.. it was more like months), Nikki was in the background whispering “Evernote”. I persisted in my resistance. I stood my ground. My notebooks were fine. I was organized enough. It was working. 

It wasn’t working.

One afternoon,  T had just laid down for his afternoon nap and his siblings were otherwise engaged in a rare moment of cooperative play, and I asked Nikki if she would mind giving me a quick Evernote primer. I can only speak to my experience, but I didn't find the whole 'getting acquainted with a new piece of software and then learning how to use it' to be as painful as it sounded. In fact, I was quite surprised to find that Evernote made getting organized pretty painless. The first half hour or so was spent getting a feel for utilizing the application and it was smooth sailing from there.

Nikki promised me Evernote was precisely what I was looking for.  As it turns out, she was right.



So you’ve got notebooks, and inside of notebooks you have notes, and if you wanted you could create a new notebook for each and every subject… and, at first, that's what I did. the first time I sort of played around with the software shortly after Nikki started using it. I created a structure that left me feeling overwhelmed and I was ready to give up (again). 

Then, I was introduced to the wonderful world of tagging. If it’s tagged; it’s searchable. On the right side at the top of your page next to the tag that looks much like a pixelated, primitive version of a scrapbooking embellishment is the space to enter your tags.

Tagging was the answer to the problem of how to make Evernote more useful for me, the new question became “what do I do with all of these tagged notes?”.  I needed to create a simple notebook system and I think I found the answer. My notebooks are a manageable number; 5. 

  1. @incoming
  2. now
  3. later
  4. future
  5. archive
Keep a limited number of notebooks and many notes and for every note you create simply add relevant tags. For example, lets say I’ve got an upcoming senior portrait shoot I might tag it like this: portraits, photography, sessions, client, seniors, the clients name, etc.

Most of my notes pass through the “@Incoming" notebook before finding their eventual homes in the another notebook.  This gives me a place to quickly drop my notes when I am pressed for time. I pretty regularly clear this notebook out, moving notes to the appropriate notebooks and tagging. 

My “Now” notebook holds the notes that are relevant to my immediate future. I classify “immediate future” as anything relevant to projects in the current quarter. This makes it easy for me to access any notes I have on high-priority projects and events. 

Later” holds notes pertaining to projects within the next 12 months. "Future" contains notes concerning projects that won't happen in the next year and are still kind of in the dreaming stage.  Visiting these notebooks once in a while keeps me focused on what I have coming up, and what I want to be working toward. 

Archive” is full of notes I want to keep and reference but that are not relevant to anything specific in the next year.  

I've tweaked this system to work best for me. In the coming weeks, Nikki and I will be posting more information on how we use Evernote to manage the chaos and make life a little easier. Make sure you don't miss a thing!-- sign up to our newsletter for updates delivered right to your inbox!

What does your organization system look like? How can Evernote help you? Drop a comment! 


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